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Materials Engineering

Program Description

Just the Facts

Materials Engineering. A program that prepares individuals to apply mathematical and materials science principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of materials and related processes used in manufacturing in a wide variety of settings; the synthesis of new industrial materials, including marrying and bonding composites; analysis of materials requirements and specifications; and related problems of system design dependent on materials factors.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this career cluster:

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Related Careers

Check out related careers

Additional Information

Materials engineering students learn how to take raw materials and turn them into useful items. Training for this field is widely available.

"Materials engineering deals with the science and technology of converting raw materials, including metals, ceramics, polymers and composites," says Mary Wells. She is a professor of metals and materials engineering.

"In other words, they have a hand in just about every material used by modern society."

You will want to make certain you find a good materials engineering program. M. Brian Ives is chair of a materials science and engineering department. He says you should be looking for a program that will include classes on subjects like:

  • Chemistry
  • Thermodynamics (the relationship between heat and other forms of energy)
  • Crystallography (studying the structure and form of crystals)
  • Mass transport (diffusion)
  • Phase transformations
  • Mechanical properties
  • Electronic properties
  • Durability
  • Design projects

Most materials engineering programs are four-year bachelor's degree programs. However, if students incorporate a co-op component into their studies, it can take five years to complete the degree.

Co-op work terms offer the opportunity to work for a semester in the industry. You'll get academic credit and some money for your work.

Look for programs accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). Accreditation means a program meets the requirements of the profession for quality education.

Students can expect to spend long hours studying, says Ives. "I guess six to eight hours a day outside the classroom and lab would not be a bad estimate. Altogether, I bet 100-hour weeks are not uncommon!"

Helpful skills include creative and critical thinking, quantitative and analytical reasoning and math and communication skills. "A person who has an innate curiosity about nature and the physical sciences and about chemical and physical processes and systems would be suited to work in this field," says Wells.

Take math, physics, chemistry, biology, English and computer programming while in high school.

Extracurricular activities can also play an important role. Participate in school and community design competitions.

In the U.S., students must graduate from an accredited engineering program, complete four years of practical work experience under the supervision of a professional engineer and pass a state exam before they can be registered as a certified professional engineer.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Materials Engineers

Engineering -- Your Future
A great overview of all the different disciplines

The Materials Information Society
Check out this big list of resources


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